October 14, 2016


Heartfelt, Hoosier congratulations to Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin discusses his being named a cardinal by Pope Francis during an Oct. 10 press conference at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin discusses his being named a cardinal by Pope Francis during an Oct. 10 press conference at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Catholics in central and southern Indiana were stunned by the news on Oct. 9 that Pope Francis had appointed Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin to the College of Cardinals. Included among those who were surprised by this papal appointment was the archbishop himself. Early Sunday, the archbishop told family and friends that he was “shocked beyond words by the decision of the Holy Father,” and he immediately requested everyone’s prayers.

In his first official communication, Cardinal-designate Tobin affirmed that he will continue as Archbishop of Indianapolis. That was a great relief to many people who wondered if the new cardinal would return to Rome or receive an assignment in a larger diocese. The cardinal-designate also spoke of his deep love for the people of this archdiocese, and his “numerous friendships” with civic and religious leaders in the Hoosier state.

Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct.18, 2012. He succeeded Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein who had resigned for health reasons. Archbishop Buechlein once observed that the new archbishop and the new pope (Francis) are “cut from the same cloth.” Both are pastoral leaders who care deeply about the people they have been called to serve, and both see the Church as a loving and merciful mother who goes out of her way to help all who are in need.

When Cardinal-designate Tobin first came to Indiana after spending many years as a priest and leader for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), he expressed his profound appreciation for the warm Hoosier welcome he received throughout the state. “Hoosier hospitality is not just a PR slogan,” the newly appointed archbishop said. “It’s the real thing!”

The warm Hoosier welcome the cardinal-designate received almost four years ago has been reaffirmed many times over as the archbishop has travelled the state of Indiana.

Never before has the Archdiocese of Indianapolis been led by a bishop who was also a member of the College of Cardinals. Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter, a New Albany, Ind., native, became a cardinal after he left this archdiocese and was serving as the archbishop of St. Louis. As a result, the honor of this appointment is shared by all Catholics in central and southern Indiana and by all the people of the state.

With this honor comes serious responsibility. Pope Francis has made it very clear that cardinals are not to consider themselves “princes of the Church” or some other form of privileged class. Cardinals are, above all else, servants of the people of God responsible for electing a new pope and assisting the current pope in his pastoral responsibilities. They are called to be witnesses to the person of Jesus Christ. They are never to pamper themselves or regard themselves as somehow better than the people they serve.

If humility is a requirement for membership in the College of Cardinals, as Pope Francis insists it is, then the Holy Father has made an excellent choice. If witnessing to Gospel joy is something cardinals are expected to do, then we know Cardinal-designate Tobin is well-qualified for this new assignment. And if the pope is looking for an honest man who will speak his mind as he advises him on matters of the greatest importance, then we can assure Pope Francis that he has made a wise choice entrusting the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis with this enormous responsibility.

The Church in central and southern Indiana shares both the honor and the serious responsibility of this historic appointment. Archdiocesan Catholics are called—now more than ever—to support their archbishop, to pray for him and to encourage him when times are tough. Hoosier Catholics are also called to renew and strengthen their efforts to build up the Body of Christ here in Indiana, and to prove that this archdiocese is truly worthy of the great love that the cardinal-designate feels for his people and their communities.

Cardinal-designate Tobin describes himself as a “Redemptorist missionary and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis.” Both roles have prepared him well to serve as a member of the College of Cardinals. As the superior general of his order, he traveled the globe and witnessed firsthand the joys and struggles of people everywhere. As an archbishop, he has demonstrated his gifts as a man of prayer, a teacher and evangelist, and a minister of charity.

We extend a heartfelt Hoosier congratulations to you, Cardinal-designate Tobin. May Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and his Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, sustain you in your service to our pope and the universal Church. May the intercession of the great missionary saints, Francis Xavier and Mother Theodore Guérin, encourage you in this historic new responsibility!

—Daniel Conway


See more news about Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin here

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